Gangotri Gaumukh Glacier
The main source of the Ganges, Gaumukh, is at the mouth of the Gaumukh glacier where blocks of glacier ice fall into the river and pilgrims take a bath in freezing water to cleanse themselves of all the sins. The sight of Gaumukh is incredible with Bhagirathi emerging out of an enormous cavern. Gaumukh is like paradise where one would find things in its purist form. One must visit Gaumukh for the panoramic view and lovely clean air. The holy glacier has much to offer than just its religious significance.
Location of Gangotri Gaumukh Glacier
Gaumukh, the cow's mouth, the source of Ganges is one of the most spectacular sights in the Himalayan region. It is situated 18 kms from the religious town of Gangotri in Uttarakhand. The Gangotri Glacier is the source of the Bhagirathi, which joins the Alaknanda at Devprayag to form the Ganga. From Devprayag, the river flows 2,480 km to the Bay of Bengal. At Gaumukh, the river is most powerful and primordial.
Places to see in Gangotri Gaumukh Glacier
To reach Gamukh, you need to use the steps that lead up from the temple at Gangotrito the main trail going to the ice cave of Gaumukh. There are no temples at Gaumukh. You have to fit and fine to trek for 19-km from Gangotri to Gaumukh. The path is narrow and the fall is steep and yo may face boulders on the trail. The terrain is rough. The first step involves a walk up to Chirbasa (7 km) which is slow as the ascent is very steep. From here to Bhojbasa which is another 5 km is a relatively smooth walk. The mountain view changes dramatically but remains breathtaking nonetheless. You will have close encounters with the river in the stretch from Bhojbasa to Gaumukh. Nnear Gaumukh, there is a lonely, mountainous expanse, which humbles the visitor. You would be bewildered by the three vertical faces of the three Bhagirathi massifs in the north. The Shivaling peak lies to the south of Gaumukh.
It is here that you will find the useful Himalayan silver birch, the whitest bark or any birch at a height of 2,800 and 3,800m. The Himalayan silver birch has a lot of significance. They were used for manuscripts before paper came into the Indian subcontinent. It is also said to have medicinal values used for the treatment of hysteria. Birch is also used in ayurveda for obesity and disorders of lipid metabolism.
Accomodations Hotels in Gangotri Gaumukh Glacier
It takes about 5-6 hours from Gangotri to reach Gaumukh on pony and little longer for those who walk. You can return the same day to Gangotri, if you start early. Since there is no option for staying at Gaumukh, it is advisable for trekkers to halt at the picturesque small town of Bhojbasa (7 km short of Gaumukh), where GMVN can arrange for food, shelter and a hot bath. Lal Baba’s Ashram has wonderful langar.
Best time to visit Gangotri Gaumukh Glacier
The best time to visit Gaumukh Glacier is between May to June and September to November
How to reach Gangotri Gaumukh Glacier
The distance between Uttarkashi to Gangotri is 105 km which can be covered by bus or taxi. Buses are available daily during season, between 5 am and 1 pm from Haridwar to Uttarkashi via Bhaldiana. The distance is 173 km and takes about 6 hrs by taxi (Rs 1,500) or 8 hrs by direct buses (Rs 150), which run between 4 and 7 am.